Chapter

Ancient scepticism and ancient religion

Julia Annas

in Episteme, etc.

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199696482
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738036 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199696482.003.0004
Ancient scepticism and ancient religion

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This paper considers an Epicurean challenge to the possibility of Sceptical inquiry (reminiscent of a famous paradox in Plato’s Meno), and also explores Sextus’ reply to that challenge. It suggests that Sextus makes the good point that one need not know, nor even believe, that p, in order to inquire whether p is so. However, it is less clear whether one can inquire if one lacks all beliefs; yet the Sceptics are sometimes thought to disavow all beliefs. The paper also discusses the vexed notion of Epicurean prolepses, and evaluates Sextus’ argument for the claim that it is the Epicureans who are not well placed to inquire, given their epistemological commitments.

Keywords: inquiry; paradox of inquiry; scepticism; Sextus Empiricus; Epicurus; Epicurean prolepses

Chapter.  9132 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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